My research interests are primarily prehistoric animal husbandry practices across time and space and more recent adaptations of European livestock management systems to novel environments, for example during the age of exploration.
In particular, my research focuses on the evolution and adaption of animal husbandry across different chronological periods in response to socio-environmental factors using a range of archaeozoological and isotopic approaches. Furthermore, I am interested in how animal husbandry practices helped structure prehistoric communities and their environments. I am actively involved in the development of new approaches to study and analyze archaeozoological remains from statistics to novel biomolecular methods using stable isotopes.
An interest in scientific analysis of the remains of human societies began when I was an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh studying for a degree in Environmental Archaeology (2001: 2.1 hons) followed by a masters in Biomolecular Archaeology (2003: distinction). Prior to embarking on a research career, I was employed by Headland Archaeology Ltd. (Edinburgh) as a project officer where I supervised excavations prior to major infrastructure programs, gaining invaluable field archaeological and management skills including working with international teams.
I was awarded a PhD fellowship in 2008 from the Marie Curie ITN LeCHE (Lactase persistence and the cultural history of Europe) with the CNRS at the MNHN (Paris). Under the supervision of Drs Jean-Denis Vigne and Marie Balasse, I completed my PhD in 2012 with an excellent note from the Sorbonne Universities. I continued the research during my postdocs on the ERC funded projects: SIANHE and NeoMilk. During the NeoMilk project I managed the archaeozoological component of the project.
In November 2016, I joined the ASIL team at CAU (Kiel), where I managed a busy stable isotope preparation lab and initiated research projects to tackle questions about prehistoric husbandry and foddering practices and their impact on the landscape.
For my complete CV please click HERE
• Gillis R.E., Gaastra, J.S., Vander Linden, M., and Vigne J.-D. (In press). A species specific investigation into sheep and goat husbandry during the early European Neolithic. Journal of Environmental Archaeology. DOI: 10.1080/14614103.2019.1615214.
• Timpson, A., Gillis, R.E., Manning, K. and Thomas, M.G. (2018). Modelling caprine age-at-death profiles using the Gamma distribution. Journal of Archaeological Science 99: 19-26. Link
• Gillis R.E., Kovačiková, L. Bréhard, S. Guthmann, E., Vostrovská, H. Arbogast, R.-M., Domboróczki, L. Pechtl, J. Anders, A., Marciniak, A. Tresset, A., and Vigne, J.-D. (2017). The evolution of dual meat and milk cattle husbandry in Linearbandkeramik societies. Proc. R. Soc. B 284(1860): 20170905. Link
• Pickard, C., Schoop, U.-D., Bartosiewicz, L., Gillis, R.E., Sayle, K. L. (2017). Animal keeping in Chalcolithic north-central Anatolia: what can stable isotope analysis add? Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 9(7): 1349-1362. Link
• Debono Spiteri, C., Gillis, R.E., Roffet-Salque, M., Castells Navarro, L. Guilaine, J., Manen, C., Muntoni, I, M., Saña Segui, M., Urem-Kotsou, D., Whelton, H. L., Craig, O. E., Vigne, J.-D., Evershed, R. P. (2016). Regional asynchronicity in dairy production and processing in early farming communities of the northern Mediterranean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(48): 13594-13599. Link
• Gerbault P., Gillis R.E., Vigne J.-D, Bréhard S., Tresset A. and Thomas M. G. (2016). Statistically Robust Representation and Comparison of Mortality Profiles in Archaeozoology. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 71: 24-32. Impact Factor. 41 H5 index. Link
• Balasse M., Balasescu A., Tornero C., Frémondeau D, Hovsepyan R., Gillis R.E., and Popovici D. (2016). Investigating the scale of herding in Chalcolithic pastoral communities settled by the Danube river in the 5th millennium BC: a case study at Borduşani-Popină and Hârşova-tell (Romania). Quaternary International 436(B): 29-40. Impact Factor. 69 H5-index. Link
• Gillis R.E., Carrère I, Saña Seguí M, Radi G and Vigne J.-D. (2015). Neonatal mortality, young calf slaughter and milk production during the Early Neolithic of North Western Mediterranean. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(2): 303-313. Impact Factor. 20 H5-index. Link
• Gillis R., Arbogast R.-M., Piningre J.-F., Debue K., and Vigne J.-D. (2014). Prediction models for age-at-death estimates for calves, using un-fused epiphyses and diaphyses. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25(6): 912-922. Impact Factor. 20 H5-index. Link
• Gillis R., Bréhard S., Balasescu A., Vigne J.-D., Popovici D. and Balasse M. (2013). Sophisticated cattle dairy husbandry at Borduşani-Popină (Romania, 5th mill BC): the evidence from complementary analysis of mortality profiles and stable isotopes. World Archaeology 45(3): 447-472. Impact Factor. 16 H5-index. Link
• Gillis R., Chaix L. and Vigne J.-D. (2011). An assessment of morphological criteria for discriminating sheep and goat mandibles on a large prehistoric archaeological assemblage (Kerma, Sudan) Journal of Archaeological Science 38(9): 2324-2339. Impact Factor. 41 H5 index. Link
• Gillis, R.E. (in press). Age-at-death analysis of animals from the ditches and settlement pits at Herxheim. In Zeeb-Lanz, A. (Ed) The Exceptional Site of Herxheim (Palatinate, Germany) Vol. II.
• Roffet-Salque, M. Gillis, R.E., Evershed, R.P., Vigne, J.-D. (2018). Milk as a pivotal media in the domestication of cattle, sheep and goat. In Vigne, J.-D., Stépanoff, C. (Eds) Rethinking domestication: Biosocial Approaches to hybrid communities. Routledge 2017
• Gillis, R.E. (2018). Dairying. In S. L. Lopez Varela (Ed.) The SAS Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Sciences.
• Roffet-Salque, Gillis, R.E. and Gerbault, P. (2017). Une Historie de l’exploitation laitière : approaches génétique, archéozoologique et biomléculaire in M. Balasse and P. Dillmann, (Eds) Regards croisés : quand les sciences archéologiques rencontrent l’innovation. Paris, éditions des archives contemporaines. Pp1-23.
• Gillis R., (2017). A calf’s eye view of milk production: Tony Legge’s contribution to dairy husbandry studies. In P. Rowely-Conwy, D. Serjeantson and P. Halstead (Eds.) Economic Zooarchaeology: Studies in hunting, herding and early agriculture. Oxford: oxbow books. Pp. 135-142.
• Bartosiewicz L., Gillis R., Girdland-Flink L., Evin A., Cucchi T., Hoelzel R., Vidarsdottir U., Dobney K., Larson G. and Schoop U-D. (2013). Chalcolithic pig remains from Çamlıbel Tarlası, Central Anatolia. Archaeozoology of the Near East X. Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of South-Western Asia and adjacent areas. De Cupere, B., Linseele, V. & Hamilton-Dyer, S. (eds.). Leuven: Peeters, Leuven, p. 101–120.
• Vigne, J.-D. and Gillis, R. (2012). Foreword by scientific editors. Anthropozoologica 47(2): 9-13
• Gillis, R. (2012). Beyond the Pail Archaeozoological research into understanding prehistoric milking practises. In Doorn et al. (Eds) May contain traces of milk - Investigating the role of dairy farming and milk consumption in the European Neolithic. York, University of York.
• Church M. J. and Gillis R. (2009). Palaeoenvironmental analyses (ed.) In Rees, A. The excavation of an Iron Age unenclosed settlement and an Early Historic multiple burial and metalworking area at Hawkhill, Lunan Bay, Angus. Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal 15: 38-45.
Previous archaeological infrastructure projects:
Previous research projects include the ERC funded projects:
• NeoMilk (resp. Prof Richard Evershed)
• SIANHE (resp. Dr Marie Balasse)
• Marie Curie ITN LeCHE (Lactase persistence and the Cultural History of Europe) 2008-2011.
Currently, I am starting a project that will focus on the impact of early farming communities and their animals on the environments of the Iberian peninsular using a number of proxies that include stable isotopes and archaeozoology.